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9 Content Types and How to Use Them in Your Content Marketing Strategy

11 min read

There’s a reason why it’s called “content marketing” — content is the reason people come to your website, stick around, share it – and hopefully take action because of it.

And content can be made up of a variety of formats – think text, images, audio, video, applications (like calculators or Generative AI interfaces). All of these elements can be combined packaged as different content types: blog posts, long form PDF, website, or social media channel. 

We’ll cover nine of the most popular content types being created and published online, starting with the most easily recognizable and accessible forms. Use this knowledge to round out your content strategy.

1. Blog Posts

Every year, Orbit Media conducts a blogger survey. If you aren’t familiar with it, take a peek, to see the best practices – and challenges of bloggers. 

Twenty years ago, when blogging software first emerged, it was touted as a means of journaling.  People still journal, but research shows that both organizations and individuals use blog posts to create a brand voice surrounding a particular issue, product, or service.

More and more, you’ll see businesses using blog content as the cornerstone of their marketing strategies. That’s because, with a blog post, you can define your company’s brand voice, generate organic traffic, be a destination for promotion, influence new leads, and engage new and returning customers. Moreover, blogs can also establish your brand as an authority in a certain space.

Blogs are an ideal way to create a branded media outlet. Take, for example, these companies and thought leaders who have established tremendous readerships through their blogs:

Blogs today are well-researched, carefully crafted – and long. On average, more than 1400 words per post. The average blogger said they spent just shy of four hours creating a blog, whereas bloggers who invested more than six hours said they had “strong results.” More than 9 of 10 blogs include images, 24% include video, and only 6% have audio. But more than a third of bloggers who do use audio and video again tout “strong results.”

So if not journaling, what is the strategy behind blogs? Most are for education – how to do something, defining what something is, and building lists like “best practices,” “things to consider,” or “methods/approaches.”Blogs are a crucial content type for search engine optimization, Search engines reward depth of coverage, so you are seeing more sites organize around topic pillars and topic clusters strategy.

2. Social Media Video

Already popular, video is quickly becoming an essential part of many businesses’ marketing campaigns. Every social medium supports it, from the obvious choice of YouTube to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

What makes video content so effective? Simply put, it grabs attention and evokes emotion.

What’s more, video content helps convert customers, especially by way of demos and how-to guides.

And video is not just for B2C. B2B is embracing video for How-tos and product explainers. According to Statista, in 2023, 45% of global B2B marketers were creating training videos and 39% were client testimonials. 

3. Long-Form Articles 

Back in the day, blogs were short – between 500 and 750 words. As you can see above, those that content marketers say provide “strong results,” are more than 1400 words. So the term long-form articles is a bit outdated – but I am including it here, because long-form content also excels as stand-alone landing pages. 

They can be packaged up as blog posts, landing pages, white papers, ebooks – but the bottom line is, done well, long-form articles are comprehensive and well organized. They should establish your expertise on a specific subject. And though they demand more work during the research and creation process, the payoff in reader loyalty is well worth it.

At MarketMuse, we embrace the long form content. We figure if you are going to click on an article, to find out what something is – you really want to knows! Here are some examples:

With well-researched long-form articles, your website can become the one-stop shop for anyone seeking information on a particular topic. Use a content brief to ensure every article published is of expert-quality.

4. Ebook and User Guide

Ebooks, short for “electronic books,” are another type of long-form content, but available on computers, mobile devices, ebook readers, and as PDFs. They’re useful for providing information and insight on a topic while keeping the sales tactics to a minimum. 

Why incorporate ebooks into your content strategy?

They can be easily monetized, generate subscribers to an email list, and are a component in attribution marketing. Some companies gate them, although that trend is fading and being judicious. Bottom line though, gated or ungated ALL CONTENT should be of high quality. The should they help build readership, and continue the customer journey. Brands like Marketo take full advantage of these benefits by offering a whole library of helpful ebooks and user guides.

Image credit: Marketo

If you’re considering publishing an ebook, make sure the reader is getting something out of it; people can tell if your 30-page ebook is really just a 30-page sales pitch.

5. Infographics

As a visual form of content, infographics are easily digestible to the average user. Though often used as supplements to written content like blogs or articles, infographics can also be shared on their own, and sometimes go viral. 

For some inspiration, take a look at the following:

You can also use infographics to promote longer-form content by including their major points and then linking to the original article. In this way, infographics have incredible SEO value for generating traffic as well as increasing brand awareness.

6. Case Studies

In simple terms, a case study is an in-depth examination of an issue, and are a great opportunity to feature a client. They generally follow a linear, explanatory structure:

  • A summary of the overall challenge – include macro and micro conditions
  • A description of the problem solved, or hypothesis tested
  • A breakdown of the solution
  • A recap of the results

The idea behind case studies is for potential customers to see how you or someone effectively solved a pain point similar to theirs—and convince them to come to you for the same results. If well written and convincing, case studies can end up making for highly shareable content. 

Moreover, because this is your data and a real situation that you helped solve, case studies are an excellent opportunity to establish your expertise.

Check out these examples to see what makes a case study effective.

7. White Papers

As with all long form content, white papers are in-depth explorations of a subject. 

But whereas blogs, guides, and case studies focus on specific events and how they can be solved, white papers tend to explore issues and problems at large. Think, what is going on in the industry, and now leverage your expertise to explain both the problem and potential solutions. 

They’re used to inform readers both inside and outside of their industry, generally through more technical information and data. In this way, white papers tend to be a little more “academic” in nature.

And unlike case studies and blog, white papers are typically presented as PDFs rather than as on-page content. They also tend to be quite lengthy—anywhere from 6 to 20 pages long. 

For instance, the World Economic Forum regularly publishes white papers on new technologies and issues that impact local businesses and the global economy.

Image credit: World Economic Forum

8. Research Reports

A growing trend in the last five years is companies relying on original research. Orbit has been tracking the results since they first asked the question in 2018 and from then, when 25% said they did, almost 50% are now saying yes! They rely on original research. Why? 

Several reasons. Original research is one of the best ways to show authority on a subject and present yourself as a thought leader. It allows you to take a pulse of the market at large, create statistics that can be leveraged in all your content, and develop a bold point of view. 

It also allows you to present your findings to the media. And as this type of content is not perceived by the media to be a sales pitch, they often will cover. I have found that if you issue a press release about the report’s findings, with a link to that report, the media will include that link – which is always good for SEO!

Bottom line, I love research reports – as they give you a way to leverage the statistics and findings in a long form report, infographic, blogs, guides, even emails for your sales teams.  

9. Downloadables

If designed well, free downloadable items are almost a surefire way to generate new visitors to your website. You can even incorporate your logo into the downloadable so that users are reminded of your brand whenever they use it.

For an idea of how that might look, check out Mint’s monthly budget template.

Image credit: Mint

Downloadables don’t have to be fancy, but they must provide some value to the reader. Otherwise, why would anyone download it? 

Again, you’re providing content that will help readers and keep you top-of-mind when they’re looking for resources. 

You can gate these or not. In B2B this is a great opportunity to present an RFP template to try and drive the narrative of what a company should consider before buying. Often in the sales process at one company I worked at, we would see the RFP come in on our format!

Additional Content Types and When to Use Them

Below is a list of formats and how they might be used to pull people through the funnel. But there is no hard and fast rule. I’ve used blogs at all stages of the funnel. The key is the layout. Assume every page is your front page – and if a person lands on a page – do you have a logical flow for what they should do next? Remember you are often writing for multiple personas. 

Consider creating “off ramps” for folks who might be at different stages or varying degrees of expertise. I’ve taken highly technical pages – and use a copy block to invite readers who aren’t as technical to learn more – and vice versa.

On the same page as an article have calls to action in the form of “ads” and copy blocks that invite them to download an ebook, or click through to another blog, or watch a video. 

Source: Orbit Media

The Takeaway

No matter which content type you decide on, it’s important to incorporate a variety into your larger, overarching content strategy. 

As mentioned, you have many different personas and audience types on your site. We all learn differently, I need to read something – and then see it in action. Others want the reverse. A mixture of different types of content — for instance, blog articles with infographics and videos — can help you tap into a wider audience. Not to mention, diversifying your content types can also help differentiate yourself from the competition.

But don’t overdo it. If you have a small team, pick a few content types that you know you can produce well and regularly. Quality is crucial no matter what content type you are creating.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Diane Burley has three decades experience creating high-impact content at scale. As a published author and seasoned technologist, she translates complex concepts into clear, engaging messaging that connects with audiences. She can help you build a content factory that drives results.